We all like security: we like the pope to be infallible in matters of faith, and grave doctors to be so in moral questions so that we can feel reassured. Unfortunately, security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark; Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity, they seem more afraid of life than of death. Take ships as an example: in port they are in their safest position, but that’s not what ships are built for. The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore. They know that fishing is best where the fewest go… There is just less competition for bigger goals.
Most people want security in this world, not liberty: If you want total security, go to prison: There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. In a maximum security prison, a man can feel really secure except for the imminent threat of release. The only thing lacking… is freedom.
Moreover, security is an attempt to try to make the universe static so that we feel safe. It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power. The search for static security is misguided. The fact is, security can only be achieved through constant change, through updating and adapting old ideas that have outlived their usefulness to current facts.
People are more concerned with security than integrity, with conforming than performing, with imitating than creating, with escaping than confronting; It is known that obstacles are like wild animals. They are cowards but they will bluff you if they can. If they see you are afraid of them, they are liable to spring upon you; but if you look them squarely in the eye, they will slink out of sight.
When you search just for security, there is a fear you are trying to hide. Yet only when fear lifts can the human heart open and thrive; the opposite of love is not hate. It is fear. Think for a moment about love. It certainly doesn’t offer security. Every time we give our heart away, we risk having it dashed to pieces. Fear promises a safer path: refuse to give away your heart and it will never be broken, either by deceit or by loss. And it is true, armored hearts are invulnerable. We can eliminate a world of trouble from our lives simply by closing our hearts. Yet the trouble from which we are liberating ourselves is necessary trouble. We need it as we need to breathe. Since the most precious and enduring lifework is signed by love, to avoid the risk of love is to cower from life’s only perfect promise.
Note that fear doesn’t operate under its own powerful and seductive logic: above all else, fear preaches caution. In fact, if fear had a mantra, it would be “Better safe than sorry.” This advice is easy to follow. Superficially, playing it safe makes both emotional and physical sense. Yet, safety and risk only appear to be mutually exclusive. We must be as cautious about safety as we are about risk. Take no risks and we still run the danger of leading a sorry life. In fact, when it comes to things that really matter, in exchange for the benefits that risk can bring, it is sometimes better to be sorry than safe. That’s why the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Since we can’t purchase security whose warranty will not expire one day, in our search for the right level of security, we should be aware to keep the balance between security and all of the factors I have mentioned (in bold).
So… what is the real security?
The only real security a man can have in this world come from within himself, from a reserve of knowledge, experience and abilities.
The only real security in a relationship is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security lies neither in looking back to what it was, nor forward to what it might be, but living in the present and accepting it as it is now. When a difficult situation comes into your life, it is possible to tune in to your mind and say, “Okay, choose.” Are you going to make yourself miserable or content? Are you going to visualize scarcity or abundance? Are you going to put yourself down for getting angry or are you simply going to notice what insecurity you were feeling at the time and try to figure out what to do?
© Assaad Mouawad 2010
Credits: Blaise Pascal, Vincent van Gogh, Michelangelo, Paulo Coelho, Helen Keller, Henry Ford, Forrest Church, Grace Murray Hopper, Orison Swett Marden, Timothy Ferriss, Waylon Jennings, Alan Cohen, Henry Louis Mencken, Anne Wilson Schaef, Susan Jeffers, William Osler, Anne Morrow, Manly Hall, James F. Byrnes